Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Hartford, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Stefan Pryor Achievement First Inc., Christina Kishimoto, Clark School, Hartford, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
The battle to fight off the “Hostile Take-Over” of Hartford’s Clark School is growing.
Last week Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto, announced plans that she wants to close Hartford’s Clark School and hand the building over to Achievement First, Inc., the larger charter school management company that already has one school in Hartford but was promised another by Mayor Pedro Segarra and the majority on the Hartford Board of Education.
This week, a Hartford Board of Education sub-committee heard from Superintendent Kishimoto, Achievement First, Inc. and the Clark School’s parents and students.
Despite growing opposition to the plan, Kishimoto is pushing the Hartford Board of Education to vote on her Clark School Closure proposal at its November meeting.
Meanwhile, despite the mounting evidence that Steve Perry’s claims of success at Capital Preparatory Magnet School are fraudulent, Perry and Kishimoto are still moving forward on plans to close another Hartford school and hand it over to Perry. To date, Perry and Kishimoto have failed to identify what Hartford school they intend to take-over.
Back at John C. Clark, Jr. Elementary and Middle School, Hartford Public School teachers, para-educators, and classroom instruction support staff are joining parents in the fight to stop Kishimoto’s plan to destroy their neighborhood school.
A primary complaint about Kishimoto’s plan is that that not only has the Clark School been making progress in improving its academic performance, but the Superintendent’s actions violate Connecticut’s school governance council law.
Connecticut’s school governance law requires that local School Governance Councils (SGCs) be included in major policy decisions about the school.
But Hartford’s Superintendent completely failed to properly include Clark’s School Governance Council in this “bait and switch” maneuver.
Failure to properly include school governance councils was one of the items that got Paul Vallas, Bridgeport’s faux Superintendent of Schools, sued earlier this year.
According to a recent American Federation of Teachers – Connecticut Chapter press release, Gloribee Gonzalez, a Clark School Governance Council (SGC) and Parent-Teacher Organization (PTO) member explained that “It’s an insult to call our community school ‘failing’…Throwing the word around to justify a hostile take-over is not acceptable. And it dismisses all that we’ve accomplished by working together as a community.”
The press release reports that “Gonzalez’ comments refer to claims by district Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto that Clark was selected for “redesign” as a privately-operated charter due to prolonged failure to make necessary improvements. However, its students are performing above the minimum proficiency threshold permitted to allow targeting a school for “turn-around” under Hartford Board of Education policy. Additionally, Clark has been part of the city’s nationally-recognized Community Schools Initiative since 2011, enabling students and their families to receive “wrap-around services” from neighborhood non-profits.”
In an open letter to Hartford Board of Education members, Clark School Governance Parent Chair Millie Soto added that “We are frustrated and hurt by the disrespectful method and tone in which this ‘plan’ was presented.”
And according to the AFT-CT press release, Kimberly Daly, a Clark School teacher said that, “It feels like someone is trying to stick our community with a ‘scarlet letter…Calling us a ‘failing school’ to allow outsiders to take-over is no way to treat the community we serve. The students and their parents deserve better than that.” Daly is a member of the Hartford Federation of Teachers, AFT Local 1018, and the union’s representative at Clark School.
The trauma now facing the students, parents and teachers at Clark School is reflective of a much bigger strategy on the part of the corporate education reform industry to close public schools and hand them over to private entities.
Massive school closure operations are underway in cities like Chicago and Philadelphia.
In Philadelphia, approximately 40 percent of all public school students are now being diverted into charter schools.
Here in Connecticut Governor Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor have been using a variety of techniques to expand the reach of corporate charter schools.
In Hartford, the Jumoke Academy charter school was given control of the Milner School while in Bridgeport the Jumoke Academy was given control of the Dunbar School.
In both cases the charter school management company with no experience working with non-English speaking children was given schools with significant numbers of non-English speaking students.
Although charter school companies like Jumoke Academy and Achievement First, Inc. have been unwilling to take their fair share of students who face language barriers and children who have special education needs, Malloy and Pryor have been diverting millions of dollars away from public schools to finance charter school operations.
As the following two tables indicate, the Clark School situation would be one of the most egregious examples of this practice to date. In fact, to even suggest that Achievement First, Inc. should take the place of the Clark School is an incredible insult, especially to the Latino community and to parents whose children need additional special education services.
The number of students coming from households where English is not the primary language.
The percentage of students requiring special education services.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Malloy, Mass Insight company, Stefan Pryor Achievement First, Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
As if Connecticut’s Alliance School Districts (the 30 poorest school districts in the state) weren’t having enough problems, Stefan Pryor has managed to pour even more salt into the wounds that are dragging down public education in Connecticut.
Over at the State Department of Education, Stefan Pryor got rid of Connecticut’s experienced Leaders in Residence and the team of experts who were dedicated to helping Connecticut’s Priority School Districts improve educational opportunities in the state’s poorest districts.
In addition to dumping the four Leaders in Residence, Pryor got rid of the three retired superintendents, all of whom had extraordinary, real world experience in Connecticut’s communities.
Malloy’s Commissioner of Education even transferred out the expert in English Language Learning and bilingual programs, the expert in helping schools create successful multi-cultural environments and the expert on reducing school bullying, making schools safer and improving school climates.
He replaced all of this expertise with a $1 million contract with an out-of-state corporate education reform company that sent in five inexperienced consultants to tell Connecticut’s education leaders what to do.
The result has been chaos with many Alliance Districts unable to get the money and help that Malloy and the Connecticut Legislature promised them.
To make matters worse, a majority of the MassInsight company consultants have left and been replaced by even less experienced individuals.
With Alliance Districts twisting in the wind, Stefan Pryor brought in a new Director for his “Turnaround Office,” a principal from one of Pryor’s Achievement First, Inc. charter schools.
Morgan Barth is noteworthy in his own right. He says he worked as an Achievement First, Inc. teacher in Connecticut for six years. However, it appears that he was in those classrooms illegally because despite a state law mandating that all teachers be certified by the State Department of Education, Barth never bothered to become a Connecticut certified teacher.
Ironic that Morgan Barth, who refused to follow the laws of the State Department of Education, is now a senior manager at that very state agency.
But if it wasn’t already clear enough, Stefan Pryor has now proven that he is completely and utterly tone-deaf to the anger and frustration that is building up around the Malloy administration’s handling of public education policy in the state.
This week Morgan Barth proudly pronounced that Nasir Qadree, an Education Pioneer Fellow, Class of 2013, has joined Pryor’s “Turnaround Office.”
Nasir Qadree is new to the education management industry.
According to his bio, Qadree has been working in the “Investment Manager Services sleeve” of State Street Corporation where he was “responsible for covering North American Business Development and Sales.” Nasir worked with prospective clients to “review and align their current operations with State Street’s servicing model.”
Before that, “Nasir worked in the Institutional Equity Sales Research group of State Street Global Markets (SSGM). In this role, he introduced portfolio managers, analysts, and traders to SSGM’s proprietary macro and quantitative research.”
And “Prior to joining State Street, Nasir worked at Goldman Sachs in New York where he worked as an operations analyst on the Fixed Income Sales desk. At Goldman Sachs, he supported municipal bond and money market sales traders.”
Nasir Qadree received a B.S. from Hampton University in Marketing and reports that he did some tutoring in New York City.
It is unclear who is paying Nasir Qadree’s salary. He doesn’t show up (yet) on the state’s payroll but State Department of Education hasn’t gone through the necessary steps to take him on as a non-paid employee.
According to Morgan Barth though he is a “New Team Member,” with Barth writing, “Please join me in welcoming Nasir Qadree to the turnaround team. Nasir joins the SDE as an Education Pioneer Fellow…Nasir will initially support several projects pertaining to the Commissioner’s Network and charter schools.”
And rest assured that Nasir Qadree likes charter schools and charter school advocates;
Among his recent social media texts and posts were the following;
“I love this. Tireless KIPP teachers showing how much they care for the future of their KIPPsters (students), all through Hip-Hop.” (KIPP being one of the biggest charter school chains in the country).
“@CoryBooker excited to be begin working for your former colleague Stefan Pryor in CT, focusing tirelessly on #schoolturnaround.” To which Cory Booker responded, “He is a great man.”
Last week Qadree also tweeted, “Excited to participate in the Northeast Charter School Conference. #StudentsFirst.”
In conclusion, it is certainly clear that Governor Malloy reiterates his commitment to undermining Connecticut’s teachers, schools and our state’s system of public education.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Hartford, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor Achievement First Inc., Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra
Despite significant public opposition to another Achievement First, Inc. school in Hartford, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Board of Education Chairman Matt Poland and a majority of the Hartford Board of Education voted to give Achievement First, Inc. a second Hartford school — but they did so without identifying where the new Achievement First, Inc. school would be.
The new Achievement First schools was part of a broader strategy on the part of the Hartford political leadership and the corporate education reformers to close existing neighborhood schools in Hartford and give the properties to charter school companies. (A similar strategy has been used in Chicago and Philadelphia to destroy their public school systems).
Last week Hartford Superintendent of Schools, Christina Kishimoto announced that she was targeting the Clark School for closure and proposing that the space be given over to Achievement First, Inc.
Of course, Achievement First, Inc. is the larger charter school management company that was co-founded by Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
Now the Real Hartford Blog highlights the fact that this move appears to be a true “bait and switch” maneuver since the implication all along was that the new Achievement First, Inc. school would be in Hartford’s South-end and not the North-end where Clark school is located.
Hartford’s North-end is already dominated by charter schools, with Achievement First, Jumoke Academy, the new Jumoke Academy at Milner and the charter like Capital Prep.
Although corporate education reformers love to talk about providing students with “school choice,” this latest effort to put another Achievement First, Inc. school in the North-end would mean that the children of Clark any remaining public school children would be provided “choice,” as long as their “choice” was a charter school.
You can read more of the details here in the Real Hartford Blog which is published at: http://www.realhartford.org/
Achievement First Proposed for South Side Now Eyeing a North End Neighborhood School
By Kerri Provost, October 27, 2013
Superintendent Christina Kishimoto — whose employment in this capacity with the Hartford Public Schools is over at the end of this school year and who has had her request to no longer be evaluated by the Board of Education granted — has angered a number of parents at the Clark School in the city’s North East neighborhood with the proposal that this preK-8 school be phased out and replaced by an Achievement First charter school.
Just a few blocks away on Vine Street, the Milner School, which had been shut down, redesigned, and re-opened previously, was given over to a different charter school management company in 2012. That time around, the same urgency was placed on the decision, though in that case, Kishimoto had missed the deadline for proposing school redesign. She missed it by five months. In the end, the Board of Education did not enforce the rules of the process, which besides contributing to the rocky start of Jumoke Academy at Milner, essentially disenfranchised parents. The school choice system in Hartford gives parents the sense of being able to choose where their children go to school, but when they select a school, only to have that school transformed after the fact, that choices is thrown away. This along with the continued practice of having more appointed than elected members on the Board of Education makes one wonder if the average Hartford resident is trusted to make decisions that impact their lives and children’s lives.
On Wednesday morning, Kishimoto met with the current principal of the Clark School, along with its School Governance Council to tell them she planned to begin the redesign process on this school.
On Thursday, members of the Board of Education were informed of this proposal via email.
Then, on Friday, there was a meeting for the Clark SGC and community, which was attended by David Medina, the Director of External Communications for the Hartford Public Schools. By those in attendance, children were reported to be teary-eyed over the news. Parents were not having it. Not even one bit.
If this proposal goes anywhere, the changes at Clark would begin in the 2014-2015 school year, with the fifth grade being operated by Achievement First, while other grade levels at Clark remain under Clark. In the 2015-2016 school year, Achievement First would additionally operate kindergarten, first, and sixth grade; in 2016-2017 the charter school would take over Clark’s second and seventh grade and the public school would close. She does not indicate what happens to the school’s third or eighth graders, but CRT would continue its work with the preschool segment at Clark School.
Though this time line for a phase-in gives everyone some time to adjust to these changes, the general decision to redesign with less than one year’s notice seems insufficient for the development of a well-thought-out plan.
One wonders where the urgency comes from if the community itself is not calling for this change.
In August, we learned that there was a push for Achievement First to open another school in Hartford.
At the time it was unclear if this would be in a new building entirely, or if this would be shared with another school. By what was said at the Board of Education meeting at the end of August, there was no indication this Achievement First school would be located anywhere except in the city’s south end. Schools reported to be looked at included Burns (195 Putnam), Burr (400 Wethersfield), and MD Fox (470 Maple). State Representatives Ed Vargas and Minnie Gonzalez both attended that meeting and spoke against the creation of a new Achievement First school; Gonzalez said that if the BOE thinks about touching Burns, she would go door-to-door in her district to activate voters.
Now, after Achievement First has received its approval from the Board of Education, it has set its sights on the city’s north end, on the Clark School.
The CMT scores from this school, while not outstanding, do not raise red flags either.
In reading, 37.5% of the school’s third graders tested at/above proficiency in 2013. Compare this to 11.1% at Jumoke at Milner Academy; 15.9% at Burns; 49.1% at MD Fox; 17.9% at Wish; 49.3% at Burr. Additionally, the average in this area for the Hartford Public Schools was 51.6%.
In writing, 65.8% of Clark’s third graders were at/above proficiency in 2013. Compare this to 20.6% at Jumoke at Milner Academy; 31.4% at Burns; 62.3% at MD Fox; 42.9% at Wish; 67.9% at Burr. The average in Hartford for 2013 was 68.1%.
For 2013 math scores, 50% of Clark’s third graders were at/above proficiency. Compare this to 10% at Jumoke at Milner Academy; 22.7% at Burns; 31% at Wish; 62.7% at Burr. The average for the Hartford Public Schools was 59.5%.
It’s reported that the superintendent will be meeting with parents at the Clark School on Monday, October 28th.
There is a special meeting of the Board of Education on Tuesday, October 29th to discuss both the site for Achievement First Academy II and the “replication” of Capital Prep Magnet School’s model, also controversial, in a workshop session. This meeting begins at 4:30pm in the MHIS Conference Room at plaza level, 260 Constitution Plaza.
A Board of Education workshop will take place on November 6th — one day after the Board of Education election — to further discuss proposed new school/redesign models. This will be held at Jumoke at Milner Academy, 104 Vine Street.
The next regular Board of Education meeting is scheduled for November 19th.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Mayor Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor Achievement First Inc., Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Matt Poland, Pedro Segarra, Stefan Pryor
In true corporate education reformer fashion, Hartford’s out-going superintendent of schools is announcing that she will attempt to rush through a proposal to close the John C. Clark, Jr. Elementary & Middle School and hand the facility over to Achievement First, Inc. to run.
Clark School administrators and the Clark School Governance Council were only told of the proposal yesterday, October 24, 2013.
Hartford Superintendent Christina M. Kishimoto will be meeting with parents this coming Monday, will explain her proposal to a Hartford Board of Education sub-committee on Tuesday and has announced that she expects the full Board of Education to approve the demise of Clark Elementary and Middle School at its November meeting.
The Clark School’s Panther Paws Pledge is, “I pledge today to do my best. In my life, I will invest. I promise to perform four deeds: Be respectful, be responsible, be caring, and be safe.”
Clearly Superintendent Kishimoto doesn’t subscribe to the same four “deeds” considering closing Clark and handing it over to Achievement First, Inc. is neither respectful nor responsible nor caring nor the right or safe thing to do for Hartford’s public school children
Presently the Clark School has special programming in conjunction The Village For Children and Families, UCONN’s Husky Sports Mentor Program and UCONN’s Read & Raise Program.
Clark was also the recipient of the “Ray of Hope” award for its state-of-the-art computer lab.
However, Hartford Superintendent of Schools Kishimoto, along with a majority on the Hartford Board of Education including Board Chairman Matt Poland and Hartford Mayor Pedro E. Segarra have promised Achievement First, Inc., the large charter school management company another school in Hartford.
Achievement First, Inc. is the charter school management company co-founded by Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor. Achievement First is widely recognized for its failure to take its fair share of Latino students, its fair share of students who face language barriers and its fair share of students who need special education services.
Earlier this year, Poland, Segarra and the majority of the Hartford Board voted to give Achievement First, Inc. another Hartford school but ducked identifying which school it would be.
Now Kishimoto is announcing that the targeted school will be the Clark school and a rush vote will be taken in just a couple of weeks.
Kishimoto’s plan is to end Clark by phasing out its program and ramping up Achievement First, Inc. #2 to take its place.
Ordering the “Death Penalty” for Clark School will have a devastating impact on the community that utilizes this neighborhood school.
According to records filed with the State Department of Education;
- More than 95 percent of Clark’s students come from households that are so poor that children qualify for free and reduced lunches.
- More than 46 percent of Clark’s students are Hispanic, more than one in four come from households where English is not the primary language and at least 15 percent of Clark’s students are not proficient in English.
- In addition, nearly one in five students at Clark receive special education services
By targeting Clark Elementary and Middle School, Kishimoto, Hartford’s Mayor and the Board of Education are displacing the very type of students that Achievement First, Inc. has been unable or willing to serve.
Check back for additional details as they become available.
Achieve Hartford, Achievement First/ConnCAN, Alan Taylor, Charter Schools, Connecticut Council for Education Reform (CCER), Education Reform, Excel Bridgeport Inc., Malloy, Stefan Pryor Allan Taylor, Charter Schools, ConnCAN, Education Reform, Malloy, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor
Pryor packs Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan Advisory Committee with charter school and corporate reform advocates.
As mandated by Connecticut General Statutes Section 10-4(c), every five years the Connecticut State Board of Education must develop a new five-year Comprehensive Plan for Elementary, Secondary, Vocational, Career and Adult Education in Connecticut. Upon adoption by the State Board of Education, the plan is submitted to the Governor and the General Assembly’s Education Committee.
In the past, this process has been developed with the broad-based consensus of public educators from throughout Connecticut.
In December 2005, the State Board of Education appointed an advisory committee that included a broad array of organizations and individuals engaged in promoting public education in the state. Narrowly focused special interest lobbying groups such as the Connecticut Charter Schools Network (CCSN) were allowed to present testimony but were not put on the Advisory Committee.
The 2005 committee represented the wide spectrum of Connecticut’s public education community: teachers, principals, superintendents, parents, public school students, Connecticut’s technical schools and institutions of higher education made up the core of the committee along with some representatives of Connecticut’s business community.
Advisory committee members had a long track-record of expertise in Connecticut public schools working with a diverse population of Connecticut students. This is just the type of group we would want to determine the long-term vision for our school districts.
A comprehensive plan requires a broad thinking group that looks out for the interests of all our children.
But now that Governor Dannel Malloy and Education Commissioner Stefan Pryor have taken the helm, those days are gone. Instead of appointing members dedicated to the long-term development of quality public education in Connecticut, they have poisoned the Advisory Committee and the process for developing the new five-year comprehensive plan by packing it with corporate education reform groups that have consistently revealed their narrow political agendas.
Public education has been a primary target of America’s growing corporate education reform industry. Over the past three years, these so-called reformers have spent a record breaking $6 million plus lobbying on behalf of Governor Malloy’s education reform initiatives, many of which have been aimed at promoting the privatization of public education in the state.
The corporate reformers also dumped record amounts into elections in Bridgeport, first in a failed effort to change the City’s charter to do away with a democratically-elected board of education and replace it with one appointed by the mayor and then in a failed effort to elect members of the board of education who support Bridgeport’s faux superintendent of schools, Paul Vallas.
Now it has become painfully clear that all that money has paid off, at least when it comes to trying to control the discussion around Connecticut’s Comprehensive Education Plan for 2013-2018.
The new Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee has been packed with pro-corporate reform organizations.
When the Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee meets for the first time tomorrow from 9:00 am to 1:00 pm at the Legislative Office Building many of the seats will be filled with corporate education reform industry representatives.
New members of the State Board of Education’s Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee include representatives from:
- Achieve Hartford!
- Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN)
- Connecticut Council on Education Reform
- Excel Bridgeport
- Northeast Charter Schools Network
- Students for Education Reform – Connecticut
- Teach for America – Connecticut
Connecticut Coalition for Achievement Now (ConnCAN), the charter school lobby group formed by the board members of Achievement First, Inc. has spent more than any other organization lobbying for Malloy’s Education Reform bills. Of course, ConnCAN’s relationship with Achievement First, Inc. is especially noteworthy since Achievement First, Inc. the large charter school management company was co-founded by Stefan Pryor.
Connecticut Council on Education Reform is the New Haven-based, corporate-funded education reform organization that joined ConnCAN and Michelle Rhee’s Students First/GNEPSA in running television ads supporting Malloy’s reforms.
The Northeast Charter School Network is the New York based charter school advocacy group that recently merged with the Connecticut Charter School Network.
Students for Education Reform – is the quintessential corporate “astro turf” lobbying organization bankrolled by a variety of education reform groups. Recall that in 2012, Students for Education Reform organized a “ student demonstration” in favor of Malloy’s reforms on the Capitol steps but when students at the demonstration were questioned about why they were there, they had no idea what they were demonstrating about.
Students for Education Reform’s Board of Directors includes Jonathan Sackler who is also on the Boards of Achievement First, Inc. and ConnCAN. Another one of Students for Education Reform Directors is Justin Cohen. Cohen is the President of MassInsight, the out-of-state consulting company that recently received a $1 million contract from Pryor. Cohen also served as a moderator for Malloy’s education reform conference before Governor Malloy introduced his reform bill and Cohen traveled to Connecticut to submit testimony in support of Governor Malloy’s education reform bill when it was first introduced.
Prior to becoming President of Mass Insight Education’s School Turnaround Group, Justin Cohen was the Director of the Office of Portfolio Management and senior advisor to Chancellor Michelle Rhee at the District of Columbia Public Schools (DCPS).
Excel Bridgeport and Achieve Hartford! are two corporate affiliated organizations that have worked toward expanding charter schools.
And Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter is the vendor that is making millions of dollars thanks to contracts in Bridgeport, Hartford, New London, New Haven, Windham and elsewhere to place minimally trained recent college graduates to fill jobs that should be held by certified Connecticut school teachers who have graduated from Connecticut’s college and universities. It should be noted that the Chairman of Excel Bridgeport’s Board of Directors is none other than the Executive Director of Teach for America – Connecticut Chapter.
Perhaps even more disturbing, Teach for America, along with ConnCAN, Excel’s leadership and State Board of Education President Allan Taylor, were the behind-the-scenes architects of the secret and illegal 2011 state takeover of Bridgeport’s democratically elected board of education
Many of these groups, like Teach for America and the charter lobbies, have been singularly focused on using public funds to expand their businesses in Connecticut.
Charter schools serve 1% of Connecticut’s students. Yet they have been given SEVEN seats on the new Comprehensive Plan Advisory Committee
Although some of these corporate education reform organizations have been plaguing our state for several years, others have absolutely no history in Connecticut.
All of these groups are primarily funded by national networks. Why should these narrow groups, dedicated to serving outside interests, be determining the future of Connecticut’s public education system?
Why should groups standing to gain contracts with the State Department of Education even be allowed to serve on this committee?
When it comes to pushing their pro corporate education reform industry agenda, there has been no doubt where Governor Malloy and Commissioner Pryor stand, but this latest move to ensure their agenda becomes part of Connecticut’s five year comprehensive education plan is perhaps their most offensive move yet.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Steve Perry Capital Preparatory Magnet School Achievement First Inc., Capital Preparatory Magnet School, Christina Kishimoto, Hartford, Matt Poland, Steve Perry
Despite their consistent failure to educate their fair share of non-English speaking students, students who go home to households in which English isn’t the primary language and students who need special education services,with the approval of the majority of the Hartford Board of Education, Achievement First, Inc. is already moving forward with plans to “open” a second charter school in Hartford.
Now, outgoing superintendent of schools Christina Kishimoto is signalling that she and some members of the Hartford Board of Education may be trying to push through a proposal to give Steve Perry a second school as well.
Today, in a three page letter with a one page chart addressed to “My Hartford Public Schools Family,” Christina M. Kishimoto highlighted her remaining goals as she enters her final year as Hartford’s superintendent.
Among her stated goals is verbiage suggesting that she and the Board of Education intend to engage in “school pairings and shared enrichment opportunities.”
As Kishimoto puts it, she wants to “explore pairing of schools through new governance designs.”
“Pairing schools through new governance designs” is corporate education reform speak for handing over an existing school to a private entity or, more often, closing an existing school, removing the staff and then immediately reopening the building under the “New Management” of a private entity.
In recent weeks there has been an increased buzz that the Hartford Board of Education could take up a resolution, as early as next month, to give Steve Perry control of another Hartford school.
This news comes at a time when there is growing attention to the controversies surrounding Perry and the failures at Capital Prep.
Considering Perry’s recent absenteeism, let alone the other more serious problems at Capital Prep, it would be especially telling if the Hartford Board goes along with Kishimoto’s purported plans for Capital Prep.
You can read Kishimoto’s latest communications here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/178208708/Supt-Letter-to-HPS-Family-Oct-2013 and here: http://www.scribd.com/doc/178208673/2013-14-Improvement-Priorities
Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Family Urban Schools of Excellence (FUSE), Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Morgan Barth, State Board of Education, Stefan Pryor Alliance Districts, Charter Schools, Commissioner Network, Fuse, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Morgan Barth, Stefan Pryor
When in doubt, purchase a new data management system, give it a name that has nothing to do with education, hire more consultants and then hold as many meetings and “training sessions” as possible.
All paid for, or course, by the generous taxpayers of Connecticut (while school districts across the state go without adequate funding).
Here in Connecticut, the corporate education reform industry has become a caricature of itself.
This very afternoon, Commissioner of Education Stefan Pryor and Morgan Barth, his uncertified “Division Director of the Turnaround Office,” will be hosting the first “NetStat” meeting of the year with representatives of Pryor’s 11 Commissioner’s Network Schools.
The State Department of Education’s delegation will include the cadre of out-of-state consultants that arrived with the $1 million contract with the politically connected Mass Insight Company.
At last word, even Governor Malloy is planning to make an appearance at today’s meeting.
At today’s NetStat meeting, Pryor and Barth’s goal is to spotlight “the schools with ‘best-in-class’ results” which is more than a bit odd considering that half the schools have only been members of the Commissioner’s Network for one year and the other half just became Commissioner’s Network schools this past month.
But as Morgan Barth, the former teacher who couldn’t bother to become certified wrote in a recent memo, “We’ll hear many stories at NetStat including one from a dynamic duo – Karen Lott and Marilyn Taylor – respectively the principals of Milner and Dunbar. In visiting both schools I was impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate.”
Impressed with the positivity and structure of the school culture/climate?
Apparently Barth remains a big fan of the no excuses, no talking, march in a single line, hands at your sides, detention for wearing the wrong colored belt or not keeping your eyes on the teacher school climate approach.
And what a surprise that the co-founder of Achievement First, Inc. (Stefan Pryor) and the former principal of an Achievement First, Inc. school (Morgan Barth) are bringing together schools from around the state so that they can “learn” about best practices from two privatized, “no excuses” schools that have been taken over by the FUSE/Jumoke Academy charter school chain.
It must be especially convenient since the COO of FUSE/Jumoke is a member of the State Board of Education, thanks to Governor Malloy, and she will probably be in attendance thanks to her role as that company’s leading voice in their expansion efforts.
Why not just be a bit more transparent and entitle the workshop; The Malloy Administration’s dedication to privatizing public education in Connecticut.
According to a copy of today’s agenda that was posted on the web, “Attendees will receive data packets for their schools, containing current and historic data for a universal set of leading and lagging indicators used to measure school turnaround.”
They’ll then spend that day analyzing the data using a “3-step data protocol” while “The Turnaround Office will present an 8-step change management process used to drive organizational effectiveness and improvement.”
The Bottom Line?
“School teams will learn more about the vision for and expansion of the Commissioner’s Network during the upcoming school year.”
Meanwhile, we are one hundred days into the school year and the same “Turnaround Office” has still failed to process all of the Year Two Alliance District Grants leaving at least a dozen school districts without the money they were promised by Governor Malloy and the General Assembly to help “turnaround” their schools this year.
And one of the towns left twisting in the wind?
The very community that reported this week that it might have to close its schools due to a lack of funds.
But no worries…
With the first NetStat meeting of the year being held, solving Connecticut’s school funding problem can’t be far behind.
Charter Schools, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
As the LA Times reported yesterday, “The founders of a San Fernando Valley charter school were sentenced Friday for the misappropriation of more than $200,000 in public funds in a case that could affect charter schools statewide.”
The husband and wife co-founded the Ivy Academia Charter School. The husband was sentenced to four years and eight months in prison while his wife, who played a more limited role in the charter school’s finances, must serve 45 days in County Jail.
In what can only be called a “classic move” by the charter school industry, “The California Charter Schools Assn. filed a brief with the court seeking a new trial, contending that “there was no crime here.”
The Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney argued that, “The operators of charter schools cannot use public funds for their own personal use or else they will be prosecuted.”
In response, the attorneys for the charter schools argued that charter schools are not really public entities but are “nonprofits, which have flexibility in spending money, provided that they are furthering the mission of the organization.”
Apparently the charter school industry feels that using public for personal use is part of a charter school’s mission.
Here in Connecticut, the constant refrain from Governor Malloy, Stefan Pryor and Connecticut’s charter schools has been that charter schools are public schools and deserve the same funding as public schools.
This claim immediately loses its credibility considering charter schools refuse to take their fair share of bilingual students and ESL students and students who need special education services. In addition, it is widely understood that charter schools refuse to provide teachers with appropriate unionization opportunities.
One of defense lawyers in the California case went so far as to say, “We maintain that this prosecution is driven by a fundamental misunderstanding of charter schools and how they operate.”
Maybe his statement is true…
Maybe the fact is that despite what they are saying, charter schools ARE NOT public schools.
The case provides yet another example of why Connecticut needs to redouble its efforts to ensure charter schools are following the law and that those who aren’t lose their taxpayer funding.
You can read the latest LA Times article on the court case here: http://www.latimes.com/local/la-me-1005-charter-sentence-20131005,0,4905942.story
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Jonathan Kantrowitz, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Special Education Achievement First, Charter Schools, Jumoke Academy, Malloy, Special Education
Most charter schools are failing to take their fair share of students who require special education services
You can always count on Connecticut resident, fellow blogger and public education advocate, Jonathan Kantrowitz, to explore the important issues with a sophisticated, fact-based approach.
In a new blog post entitled, “Why the Gap? Special Education and New York City Charter Schools,” Jonathan Kantrowitz examines data coming out of New York City about the failure of charter schools to take and keep students who need special education services.
This study, from the Center on Reinventing Public Education, uses NYC data to analyze the factors driving the gap in special education enrollment between charter and traditional public schools. Among the findings:
- Students with disabilities are less likely to apply to charter schools in kindergarten than are regular enrollment students. This is the primary driver of the gap in special education enrollments.
- The gap grows as students progress through elementary grades, largely because charter schools are less likely than district schools to place students in special education—and less likely to keep them there.
- The gap also grows as students transfer between charter and district schools. Between kindergarten and third grade, greater proportions of regular education students enter charter schools, compared to students with special needs.
- There is great mobility among special education students, whether they attend a charter or traditional public school. Close to a third of students in special education leave their school by the fourth year of attendance, whether they are enrolled in charters or traditional public schools.
Given the complex factors revealed by the study, the report cautions against simplistic policy solutions like quotas and enrollment targets. Instead, policy attention might be more usefully spent identifying and replicating effective academic or behavioral interventions that allow schools to declassify students with mild disabilities, and investigating why parents of students with special needs are not choosing charters early on.
You can read his full blog post here: http://educationresearchreport.blogspot.com/2013/10/why-gap-special-education-and-new-york.html
What is clear is that many charter schools want to claim the mantle of being public schools, but the majority fail to take their fair share of students who need special education services, just as they fail to take their fair share of students who need extra help when it comes to learning the English language.
There are undoubtedly charter schools that understand the fundamental role of public schools and do make a real effort to provide educational opportunities to the full range of students, but those charter schools are outliers compared to the vast majority of their colleagues.
As another New York City study found;
“…[NYC] charter schools enroll a smaller percentage of special education students than do district schools. But more importantly, charter schools do not enroll the same kind of special ed students as the district schools. While special education enrollment in charters grew over the last year, the special ed students who attend charters have much lower levels of disability than their special ed counterparts at neighboring district schools.
Practically none of the 57 charters we reviewed enroll “self-contained” students, the highest category of need, who must be taught in separate classrooms with one teacher for every 6 or 12 students. Very few enroll “collaborative team teaching” students, who are educated in mixed classrooms with two teachers, one a specialist. These two higher-need categories of special education students by and large attend district schools. Students who require the less-intensive “related services,” such as speech or physical therapy, are by far the most prevalent special education type in the charters. ”
Similar observations have been made in Connecticut.
Even at the most basic level, most Connecticut Charter Schools consistently fail to educate their fair share of students who need special education services
Here is the latest available data on students needing special education services in selected district schools in Connecticut versus selected charter schools in Connecticut
||% Special Education
|Hartford Public Schools
|AF – Hartford Academy
|New Haven Public Schools
|AF – Amistad
|AF – Elm City*
|Bridgeport Public Schools
|Park City Prep
(*) 2010-2011 report not on file, data is 2009-2010
While charter school funding is the fastest growing area of Governor Malloy’s education budget, the evidence is clear that Connecticut’s charter schools are consistently failing to provide educational opportunities to special education students and students who need extra help with the English language.
Achievement First/ConnCAN, Charter Schools, Education Reform, Hartford, Malloy, Prosperity for Connecticut PAC, Stefan Pryor Achievement First Inc., Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools, Malloy, Stefan Pryor
- Achievement First, Inc. is the charter school management company co-founded by Governor Malloy’s Commissioner of Education, Stefan Pryor.
- Achievement First, Inc. won’t take its fair share of bilingual students or students who aren’t proficient in English.
- Achievement First, Inc. won’t take its fair share of students who need special education services.
- Achievement First Inc. is unwilling or unable to provide certified teachers in many of its classrooms.
And thanks to the Mayor of Hartford and a 5-2 vote of the Hartford Board of Education, Achievement First, Inc. will be opening a second elementary school in Hartford next year.
Only Board members Robert Cotto Jr. and Brad Noel voted against the Achievement First plan despite the fact that Achievement First effectively limits which Hartford students it will educate and also faces serious problems with its draconian disciplinary policies.
But now Achievement First Inc. only needs the approval of the State Board of Education (a la Stefan Pryor) and a Hartford location before it can move forward with its plans for a taxpayer-funded school.
One option being discussed is to close an existing Hartford school and turn the facility over to Achievement First, Inc.
Another option is to “co-locate” the Achievement First, Inc. school within an existing Hartford school.
New York City has utilized the co-location mechanism many times. The charter school company moves into the existing public school. It gets its pick of the best features of the facility and the remaining “public” school and its students then get to use whatever is left.
One of the biggest beneficiaries of the co-location practice in New York City has been the Harlem Success Academy chain of charter schools.
Like Achievement First, Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools won’t take its fair share of bilingual or English Language Learners.
Like Achievement First, Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools won’t take its fair share of students who need special education services.
And like Achievement First, Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools have been widely criticized for discipline policies that appear to some to be nothing short of child abuse.
For example, in one report about CEO Eva Moskowitz and her Harlem Success Academy Charter Schools it was revealed that, “New students are initiated at ‘kindergarten boot camp,’ where they get drilled for two weeks on how to behave in the “zero noise” corridors (straight lines, mouths shut, arms at one’s sides).”
As of two years ago, Eva Moskowitz was earning over $490,000 a year from her five taxpayer-funded charter schools, more than twice what the New York City Chancellor of Schools made for running 1,400 schools.
And what does Eva Moskowitz say about co-location of charter schools within district schools.
In a commentary piece Eva Moskowitz wrote last summer she said;
“Sure, putting charter schools in separate buildings would spare district parents the pain of pressing their noses up against the glass of high-functioning charters. However, to improve our public-school system, parents must know things could be better, no matter how painful that knowledge is.
Consider it one more service charter schools do — communicating one simple message to the families whom the district schools so profoundly fail: It need not be so.”
Is that the type of education reform policy that is coming to Connecticut?
It wouldn’t be the first time Eva Moskowitz’s operation crossed into Connecticut.
Just last year, when Governor Malloy held a fundraiser for his Prosperity for Connecticut Political Action Committee at the home of Jonathan Sackler, who serves on the Achievement First, Inc. Board of Directors, the vice chair of Eva Moskowitz’s Success Academy Charter Schools dropped by with a $1,500 check for Malloy’s PAC.
The pattern is becoming all too familiar.